While 2022 marked the return to a normalcy close to pre-pandemic times, back to crowds and future plans (even if they were limited to summer vacations), for me, it has also been a year for assimilating absences, as a contrast to returning to normal, most likely. In all of this, cinema in 2022, or at least the ones I highlight among the best movies of 2022 in the United States, has been a therapy that, along with music and literature, has accompanied the conversation as one more aspect.
A therapy to talk about family as an entity (Lullaby as a mirror to look at, Broker as what one can build, The Passengers of the Night as what one remembers it to be), the fight against injustices (thrilling in Argentina, 1985, heartwarming in Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, or cynical and insane in Don’t Worry Darling), and about how we face loss in general, where only remembering through the scent of those who leave us remains (Lullaby once again) or through the songs that will always remind us of the absent ones (The Passengers of the Night).
For all these reasons, I will now talk not so much about a top 10 of the best movies of 2022 (whose title aims to answer a possible user search) but about the ones I would like to recommend to someone looking for something interesting to watch, either with company or alone. I would say that this list has a bit of everything. Variety of genres and also of themes and visions beyond reality, but also within it. So, let’s get started.
Top 10 recommended movies of 2022
Lullaby is complex in its simplicity, a humble description of what it means to be a mother, not only on an individual level but also on a universal level, and from two generational perspectives, which also help us reflect on being a daughter and the individual role in the families we each have.
With immense sensitivity and a focus on the details, we witness a painful and liberating story. It’s an honesty that can sometimes shatter you but is capable of putting you back together within minutes, using the paths that imperfection offers.
Perhaps that’s why it’s the first film of 2022 to highlight. It doesn’t make you happy, but it’s real, thanks especially to the insightful direction of director Alauda Ruiz de Azúa, but also to outstanding performances that allow us to be a part of that fictional reality amidst silences and outbursts.
I watched, liked and rated Lullaby on Friday Dec 9, 2022
Decision to Leave (2022)
Decision to Leave is probably the most beautiful romantic film of the year, exploring love that borders on obsession, unnoticed by others and perhaps never even existed. The latest film from Park Chan-wook, the creator of hits like Oldboy and The Handmaiden, and about whom I previously wrote, remembering the career of composer Cho Young Wook, not only received the Best Director award at Cannes but also became South Korea’s candidate for the Oscars.
Decision to Leave is a confusing story, full of tension and plot twists about attraction, need, and love, which can thwart all the plans in the lives of the protagonists. A story that, if it weren’t directed by the masterful hand of the Korean director and didn’t have the music of his go-to composer, wouldn’t be what it is. That’s the magic of cinema, undoubtedly.
I watched, liked and rated Decision to Leave on Monday Jan 23, 2023
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)
The animated story of Pinocchio, envisioned by the genius Guillermo del Toro and stop-motion master Mark Gustafson, has been one of the most endearing of the year. Based on the familiar Pinocchio story, which begins when a puppet made by Geppetto comes to life, del Toro breathes new life into it, giving it another dimension.
Disney’s Pinocchio had a very human appearance, but this Pinocchio is a wooden puppet with a more imperfect yet beautiful and dynamic texture, much like the film itself.
The movie hides interesting reflections on the burdens and pain they carry, on eternal life, time as the most precious gift despite the eternal suffering it entails, on loved ones, and the sometimes painfully joyful knowledge of their sad ending. There’s much wood to carve here.
I watched, liked and rated Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio on Sunday Dec 11, 2022
Argentina, 1985 (2022)
Although historically, this is very complicated content that requires a lot of context, it is portrayed at a brisk pace, and the important events are always told with detail and sensitivity. In fact, from this perspective, any viewer can understand that what is depicted happened on a massive scale and took a long time to unfold.
In Argentina, 1985, we witness a terrible truth, and it is a work with a strong message that this history must not be repeated, paying homage to the souls who suffered that horror. Adding to that the final speech and the knowledge that everything we see is true, the result is being among the best films of 2022.
I watched, liked and rated Argentina, 1985 on Saturday Oct 22, 2022
Glass Onion (2022)
And now, to change the tone a bit, since we’ve had a lot of drama and love, let’s dive into some comedy (although we did see some in Decision to Leave as well).
Packed with references to modern pop culture, this sequel may diminish the beauty of the first film (Knives Out), but its spirit is worth it to parody the genre and a significant part of humanity living online.
I watched and rated Glass Onion on Sunday Dec 25, 2022
Turning Red (2022)
This is one of Pixar’s most profoundly personal works, and that says a lot. One can imagine director Domee Shi speaking about her cherished memories of transitioning from childhood to adolescence and translating them all into the narrative. Not all of us have been Canadian teenage girls in 2002 with Chinese heritage, but it’s not necessary to have that background to enjoy Turning Red.
It’s also brilliantly animated, with some of the most caricatured and vivid character designs Pixar has produced in a long time. I can’t believe anyone could create such a silly controversy around something as decidedly magnificent and positive as this film.
I watched and rated Turning Red on Thursday Apr 14, 2022
With one of the most passionately toned films from a calm perspective, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s film stands out in its approach to the family dynamics of its characters, always in an unobtrusive manner. You can feel their emotional beats strongly, often amidst monotony, which is highly interesting and commendable.
Once again, the Japanese director (here in a Korean production) focuses on the nature of the family, emphasizing both criticism and admiration through direction and performances.
I watched and rated Broker on Monday Dec 26, 2022
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
A sorcerer and a teenager travel through the multiverse to prevent a witch from reuniting with her children. The direction is easily the strongest aspect of the film, directed by Sam Raimi, an expert at creating fantastic cinematic imagery, solid tone, and atmosphere, and a great character development that pushes them in deeper directions.
While the plot is somewhat weak, and the concept of the multiverse seems to have been underutilized, there are other elements more than sufficient to make this film worthwhile.
I watched and rated Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on Sunday Jul 24, 2022
Don’t Worry Darling (2022)
Hopefully, this film could have been longer and at the same time not, to leave us with the intrigue of knowing more about the reality it transports us to, a reality that is constantly shifting. It’s clear that The Victory Project is built on a foundation that can’t be explained without delving into strange twists that would take us out of the movie too often. For all these reasons, I consider it a real success that the director chose to leave us as we are in this film.
Regarding the negatives, they say it’s mostly some performances. They also say that the worst aspects are actually behind the scenes. They recount that the filming was terrible, that things ended badly in general, and if we start recalling all the commotion during its festival presentations, it doesn’t seem to improve the situation (or maybe it does, depending on the type of drama you like).
As for the positives, as always, Florence Pugh’s performance stands out, as she does an incredible job on par with her previous work. She always shines. So, whether you liked Don’t Worry Darling or not, no one can question what she accomplishes here.
I watched and rated Don’t Worry Darling on Sunday Nov 20, 2022
The Passengers of the Night (2022)
To close, what better way than with some overwhelmingly beautiful cinema. It envelops you as an emotional experience filled with gentle and delicate vibrations that radiate from the screen and transport you to a different plane of existence. A nostalgic tale (which would still be nostalgic even if it weren’t set in the past), told without haste, with great empathy and sensitivity that seems to want to emphasize qualities like kindness or tenderness.
The film not only works exquisitely and carefully to create a delicate space between the characters that allows feelings of tenderness and love but also ensures that these feelings endure over time, even after watching the film. Special mention goes to the music that transports us from the first second of the film and shines even brighter during the scene with Joe Dassin’s song. Rarely have we seen a song so well integrated into a scene.
I watched and rated The Passengers of the Night on Wednesday Nov 2, 2022
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.